Where to find black-eyed pea fritters, crab hot dogs, burnt coconut ice cream, and lots of tropical stews in the Bahian capital by the sea
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Salvador sits on Brazil’s South Atlantic coast, in the idyllic state of Bahia, home to some of northeastern Brazil’s most beautiful beaches. The vibrant city was founded in 1549 by the Portuguese as the first capital of colonial Brazil and remained that way for two centuries (before ceding the title first to Rio then Brasília), leaving a lasting historical, cultural, and culinary impact on the modern country. With the largest population of Afro-Brazilians and a complex mishmash of African, Indigenous, and European influences, Salvador has earned the local nickname “the Black Rome.”
Portuguese colonizers imposed techniques on indigenous ingredients to form much of Brazil’s cuisine, but the enslaved Africans who settled in Salvador were vital in shaping local dining too. Substantial, hearty, and tropically flavored, cozinha Baiana (Bahian cuisine) is a melting pot of European cooking methods (lots of stews), pre-Columbian ingredients (like cassava), and African spices and products (like dendê oil and okra). Food also plays an essential role in Candomblé, a syncretic Afro-Brazilian religion drawn from the cultures of enslaved West Africans. Candomblé worshipers honor different orixas (deities) with specific dishes, and those foods have blended into the broader culinary culture.
Today, casual botecos (bars) and cheerful restaurants serve popular dishes such as moqueca (Brazilian seafood stew with fish broth and cassava porridge), vatapá (seafood stew with coconut milk), and the ubiquitous street food acarajé (black-eyed pea fritters). Dive into the rich culinary heritage and booming modern restaurant scene in the capital of Bahia.
Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.
Prices per person, excluding alcohol:
$ = Less than 106 Real (less than $20 USD)
$$ = 106 – 266 Real ($20 – $50 USD)
$$$ = More than 266 Real ($50 USD and up)
Rafael Tonon is a journalist and food writer living between Brazil and Portugal. He is the author of the book The Food Revolutions.
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
R. Prof. Sabino Silva, 5 – Chame-Chame, Salvador – BA
Brazil is famous for its steakhouses, and the best place to earn your meat sweats in Salvador is Carvão in the Chame-Chame neighborhood. Chef Ricardo Silva takes the modern steakhouse concept a bit further than most. On the menu, there are dishes influenced by American barbecue (smoked prime rib over apple tree wood), as well as seafood grilled over coals, such as octopus with hummus, baby carrot, tomatoes, and shallots. The fire, smoke, and salt add to the restaurant’s cozy atmosphere. [$$$]
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